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Review: Back to the Future and Back to the Future Episode I

July 1, 2011

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but Back to the Future is one of my favorite movie series of all time. I tend to think of it like this: my dad had the Star Wars trilogy, and I have Back to the Future. It was really the first movie I could quote pretty much at will. It’s really one of those movies that I could watch seventeen times in a few weeks, like my dad did with Star Wars. And now that you know my history, let’s get on with the review.

So, as I’ve said, anything Back to the Future is like crack to me, especially the original. We start with our primary protagonist, Marty McFly, showing up at the home of his friend, local inventor Emmett “Doc” Brown. After Marty destroys Doc’s giant amp with the power of rock, Doc calls to ask Marty to meet him at the mall at one in the morning. Doc’s clocks (It’s fun to rhyme) all go off at once, with Doc revealing that they’re all twenty-five minutes slow, presumably due to some prior experiment, at which point Marty realizes he’s late for school.

He makes his way to school, where he’s promptly caught by Vice-Principal Strictland and given his fourth tardy slip in as many days. Strictland advises him to pull his band out of the dance auditions after school, as “no McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley.” We completely skip the school day to get to the dance auditions, judged by Huey Lewis of course, where, after a rather spirited rendition of “The Power of Love”, he’s told that his band is “just too darn loud”.

He meets back up with his girlfriend Jennifer outside the courthouse, where she tries to convince him to send in a demo tape his band made, but he says he doesn’t know if he could handle a rejection like that. The two lean in for a kiss…and are interrupted by a woman collecting to save the courthouse clock tower, which was struck by lightning in 1955. She gives him a flyer, and they lean in to kiss again…only to be interrupted by Jennifer’s father pulling up in a station wagon. After she leaves, Marty catches rides on the back of various vehicles back home, where he finds that his father’s car has been wrecked by George’s boss, Biff.

Biff had his accident because of a phantom blind spot and because Biff was drinking and driving. And I don’t mean that he was drunk while driving George’s car. He actually had a can of beer in his hand while driving the car, and we know this because he mentioned that he was sending the bill for his dry cleaning to George, because he spilled beer all over himself. After he leaves, Lorraine begins to reminisce about how she met George.

Marty falls asleep until half-past midnight, when he gets a call from Doc, asking him to pick up his video camera on the way to the mall. In all, it takes him about forty-five minutes to get to the mall, showing up just as the clock hits 1:16 AM. As he boards up to Doc’s truck, the ramp slowly lowers and a heavily modified DeLorean DMC-12 rolls out in a cloud of steam. Doc gets out to greet Marty, and has him start recording the experiment. He has his dog Einstein get in the car, taking control of the via remote, driving it towards the two of them, accelerating to 88 miles per hour and vanishing in a flash of light and clap of thunder.

After the Libyan nationalists track down and shoot Doc, Marty escapes in the DeLorean, traveling back to 1955, where he is stranded for a week, preventing and later helping his parents fall in love, inspiring Doc to continue working on his time machine, and accidentally making sure that George becomes an acclaimed sci-fi author by 1985.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a huge fan of anything related to Back to the Future. So of course I’m going to like the movie that kicked it all off. I think that Michael J. Fox and and Christopher Lloyd play their respective roles to the hilt, and even some of the slightly more minor players are running right along that line between theatrical and realistic, but I have to give special credit to Tom Wilson, who manages the notable task of playing a cowed bully in the end.

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Yes, I know that I’ve reviewed part one of the Telltale game before, but because it was  fresh out of the box, so to speak, I wasn’t really willing to go too far into the details. Now that some time has passed and more people have experienced the game first hand, I feel more comfortable talking deeper into the game.

So, where I left off in the last review, the DeLorean had just re-appeared outside of Doc’s lab with Einstein inside. Marty tracks down Doc’s location in the time stream by following a shoe that Einstein stole from Edna Strictland, specifically to June of 1931. Doc has been jailed for the arson of a speakeasy run by Irving “Kid” Tannen, Biff’s father. He has to convince teenage Emmett to finish his prototype rocket drill, and in order to do that, he has to convince his own grandfather, Arthur McFly to appear in court against his boss, Kid Tannen.

Once Arthur answers the subpoena, Emmett is finally ready to finish his first real invention. Unfortunately, he’s missing one crucial ingredient for his rocket fuel: 190-proof alcohol. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but prohibition wouldn’t be repealed for another two years, and Marty can’t afford to wait around that long. He manages to switch barrels of soup from the soup kitchen (really a front for Kid Tannen’s new speakeasy) with barrels of alcohol, and even arranges for the crusading Edna Strictland to deliver it to the Brown Mansion, where Emmett has his secret lab.

Emmett finishes his rocket drill, only minutes too late: Doc has been taken out of town in a police wagon, supposedly transferred. In reality, he’s been taken by Kid Tannen, who plans to murder him in revenge for the speakeasy arson. Marty has to steal borrow Edna’s bicycle (with Emmett’s rockets attached) to catch up to the wagon, rescue Doc, and escape from Kid Tannen.

I loved this game back in January, and it’s still a whole hell of a lot of fun. Telltale’s treated the property with a lot of respect, and if there’s a season two to the game, you can bet that I’ll be there. As always, the comment section is open (unless you’re trying to advertise for free), and I’m always open to review suggestions.

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